Istanbul, the “Prostitute” City

The Turks say that Istanbul is like a prostitute – beautiful, but dangerous.

I decided to portray the intensely stimulating mix of beauty and danger, which so characterises Istanbul, in my novel “Evil Eye.”


I take the heroine, Celeste, on an adventure full of threats, violence and narrow escapes which makes its way though gold-filled palaces, the dazzling colours and heady scents of the bazaars, the eerie old harem packed with jewels and opium hookahs, the mosques lit by shafts of sunlight and, of course, the deep blue bosphorus which flows through the heart of the city.

I lived in Istanbul for a year when I had just finished university, in the attic room of a beautiful old mansion overlooking the Bosphorus.  The call to prayer, from a minaret right outside my bedroom window, blared out so loudly each dawn that I sprang to my feet suffering a near heart-attack. Then, every day, my senses would be bombarded by the colours, noises, smells and the crowds of people rushing through their busy days.

Like Celeste in my novel, I was thrown in at the deep end in Istanbul. I survived being held at gunpoint, having my bag violently snatched form me, and even a bout of cholera.  Yet the sheer beauty of Istanbul always made up for it.


These photos show some of the places in Istanbul where “Evil Eye” unfolds.  They include a couple of pictures of me as a very young lady.

Ottoman Houses, Bebek
Celeste, the heroine of “Evil Eye,” lives in a house on this street. These old Ottoman mansions are more than 100 years old, and I lived in a similar house in Istanbul.
Yerebatan Sarnici
Yerebatan Sarnici, one of the underground cisterns built to supply drinking water throughout Istanbul in the 6th century. One of the key scenes of “Evil Eye” unfolds in a similar cistern, which has been converted into a restaurant.
fotover2 001
Here I am in front of the Sultan Ahmet Mosque, convalescing from cholera and yearning for a toilet.
Topkapi Palace Harem
Topkapi Palace, former home of the Turkish royal harem. Celeste makes an unexpected friend when she visits the palace, and also learns a shocking secret.
The Grand Bazaar - Istanbul
The Grand Bazaar. The sheer quantity of beautiful artifacts in this market literally overwhelmed my senses every time I came here. It is like a huge rabbit warren and I repeatedly got lost!
Santa Sofia
Hagia Sophia, or Saint Sofia Basilica. It was once a church, then a mosque, and now a museum.
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Here I am standing in a part of Rumeli Husari, an old fortress. It was my favourite place in Istanbul, not just for the views but because the air was so refreshing.

Evil Eye by Veronica Di Grigoli

Celeste is working in Istanbul, misty Turkish city of mosques, bazaars and palaces with the sparkling blue sea flowing through its centre. Yet her dream adventure abroad is turning out to be more like a nightmare.

Her rich students at the swanky language school seem more interested in their manicures and designer clothes than in her English lessons.

The morose, stubbly caretaker of the orphanage, where Celeste volunteers, stares at her beloved boys like a vulture sizing up his next meal.

Worst of all, Celeste’s landlady in a beautiful mansion overlooking the sea is doing a bad job of hiding a shady secret: she lets slip puzzling comments that don’t make sense, leaves sinister charms around the house, and puts magic spells in places she should not be going.

One day, Celeste’s favourite boy goes missing from the orphanage, and Celeste discovers that she herself is the target of her landlady’s dark plot. She embarks on a frantic search through crowded bazaars and dangerous alleys, desperate to find one small boy lost in a city of ten million.

Can Celeste find the child – and save herself – before her landlady destroys her?

This mystery adventure which unfolds along the shores of the Bosphorus will entice fans of Khaled Hosseini, Alexander McCall Smith and Jason Goodwin.

Evil Eye is available in Kindle and paperback formats from Amazon stores worldwide.


One Comment Add yours

  1. Reblogged this on DIANA BELCHASE and commented:
    My guest blogger today is Veronica Di Grigoli. She’s written a terrific book, Evil Eye, which she researched thoroughly during her time in Turkey. Here is a little bit about Istanbul, loads of photos, and a snippet from Evil Eye. Enjoy!

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